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Sci Adv. 2019 May 1;5(5):eaaw1947. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1947. eCollection 2019 May.

Yam genomics supports West Africa as a major cradle of crop domestication.

Author information

1
DIADE, Univ Montpellier, IRD, Montpellier, France.
2
National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, PMB 7006, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria.
3
University of Parakou, BP 123 Parakou, Bénin.
4
CSIR-Crops Research Institute, P.O. Box 3785, Fumesua-Kumasi, Ghana.
5
University of Yaoundé I, Laboratory of Plant Systematics and Ecology, P.O. Box 047, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
6
National University of Sciences, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics of Abomey, Laboratory BIORAVE, Dassa-Zoumè, Benin.
7
Cirad UMR AGAP, F-34398 Montpellier, France.
8
University Montpellier, CIRAD, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro, Montpellier, France.
9
GQE-Le Moulon, INRA, Univ Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
10
University Grenoble-Alpes, Grenoble INP, TIMC-IMAG CNRS UMR 5525, 38042 Grenoble Cedex, France.

Abstract

While there has been progress in our understanding of the origin and history of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, a unified perspective is still lacking on where and how major crops were domesticated in the region. Here, we investigated the domestication of African yam (Dioscorea rotundata), a key crop in early African agriculture. Using whole-genome resequencing and statistical models, we show that cultivated yam was domesticated from a forest species. We infer that the expansion of African yam agriculture started in the Niger River basin. This result, alongside with the origins of African rice and pearl millet, supports the hypothesis that the vicinity of the Niger River was a major cradle of African agriculture.

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